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How to Prepare for a Tutorial at the Last Minute

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Needed to catch up on the latest episode of Suits? Participated in a procrastibaking marathon? Spent more than a few minutes giggling at memes? Did that looming property assignment mean that tutorial preparation took a back seat? Or did you just forget that you had a tutorial until it was too late to commit to any meaningful study?

I’m not going to give you a lecture on how terrible your study habits are... After all, the saying “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”, isn’t always gospel law.

Few law students can say that they’ve fully prepared for every tutorial since the start of law school Despite how invincible and perfect you perceive your law student self to be, you’re only human. As you know, required readings can, and often do, exceed 100 pages when you’re studying numerous law subjects. If you only have a few hours before your tutorial, don’t try to read all of the pages. In fact, don’t even touch your textbook... yet.

Firstly, read over the tutorial problems. These will tell you which aspects of the readings require more focus. Next to the questions, make notes as to the area of law you need to look into, and the elements required, if you know them. If not, look up the legislation or go find the elements in your textbook. Skim read the relevant tests and some case authority, and you’re good to go.

If your readings require you to read cases, consult case notes first. This way, you’ll get the general gist of the case without having to trawl through a tower of pages. Then, make a brief note of the facts, and skim through until you find the ratio of the relevant judgment(s). While obiter is important too, don’t dwell on it unless the tutorial question specifically asks you to discuss it.

You’re in a rush so bullet points for answers are understandable, but you should go back and fix these up after your tutorial. This way, you won’t form a bad habit, and you’ll thank yourself come exam time.

Obviously your answers won’t be super detailed and meticulously formed, so don’t be afraid to be honest with your tutor if you cannot expand on them. Your tutor won’t kill you (let’s be honest, a murder charge doesn’t look good on anyone’s record!) Whilst he/she won’t be impressed, you’ll scrape through the tutorial and receive some marks for attendance and limited participation... Every little helps, right? Plus, if your tutor grills you on something, at least once the burn soothes, you won’t be forgetting that point any time soon.

While some tutorial preparation is better than none at all, you can’t survive the semester on emergency prep alone, so make sure you step up your game for next class. Also, ensure you catch up on anything you missed in your studious haste, or risk drawing blanks in your final exams. If you manage to scrape a pass, you risk ending up like Gummow J: “I cannot go on writing judgments about things I do not understand.” Lam, Ex parte - Re MIMA B33/2001 [2002] HCATrans 315 (24 June 2002).

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